I was not joking: here it goes #beetrootgate dish number 3. I tried this recipe once, out of one of favorite cookbooks long before I had a blog. As beetroots were pulling up in the fridge, it seemed like a good idea to try it again. And, it was as lovely as I remembered it, with lots of different flavors and textures. A perfect side dish for you winter roasts…
Roasted beetroot with chestnuts, roasted red onions and balsamic vinegar (adapted from Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas’ Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations)
- 3 large beetroots washed and cooked, sliced (pay attention not to pull the vinegary ones from the shelf)
- olive oil to taste vinegar to taste
- 3 red onions cut into quarter
- 8 roasted chestnuts, crushed with a mortar and pestle
- balsamic vinegar
- salt and black pepper to taste
Pre-heat your oven to 190oC/3750F/mark 5
Place the sliced beetroots* in a roasting tray, and drizzle them with a generous amount of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 25min. Reserve.
Put the quartered onions in a small roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place them at the bottom of the oven and roast for about 20min. Reserve.
When everything is ready, place a large heavy-based non stick frying pan on a medium heat and put in enough olive oil to coat the bottom. When is piping hot and begins to smoke, drop in half the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 min, until the beetroots start to get dark, stirring occasionally, Add half the roasted onions and dash of balsamic vinegar. Mix well, and add the half the chestnuts. Cook together another 3min. Reserve. Repeat whit what is left of the ingredients.
Just when the second batch is about to get ready, put in the reserved portion. Drizzle again with olive and let it cooked until everything is well mixed.
*If you cannot find cooked beetroots, cook them by bringing them to boil in a large pan with salt and water and bring them to simmer for about 3h. After allowing them to cool, peel of the skins.
An impromptu diner lead to a seriously good roasted chicken – my
poor suffering testers guests still talk about it. For bonus points, combine it with roasted potatoes, onions and romesco sauce.
Roasted chicken (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)
Ingredients (6-8 persons)
- 4-6 bay leaves
- 40 g dried rosemary
- 15g dried thyme
- Black pepper corns to tast (about 1 tablespoon)
- Olive oil as needed to brush the chicken
- A total of bout 4 kg whole chickens (I ended up with 3 chickens)
- 3 lemons (1 per chicken)
- 6 unpeeled garlic cloves (2 per chicken)
- 200 mL white wine
Preheat the oven to 220 oC.
Start the herb crust: put in a small blender the bay, rosemary, thyme and peppers. Process until you have a very fine powder.
Prepare the chicken to be roasted – wash, cut the tips of the wings and tail. Season with salt and pepper inside and outside.
Put the chicken on a roasting tray lined some olive oil, breast up. Brush the chicken with olive oil and finely great the lemon zest over it. Stuff it with 1 lemon cut in pieces and 2 garlic cloves.
Roast the chicken, breast up. After 25min, turn it around and let it roast for another 35min, or until golden and cooked through.
Remove the chicken and set aside covered with foil.
Poor the white wine and the water in the cooking tray to deglaze and remove all the sediments.
Collect all the cooking juices in a small pan and put on high heat. Boil the cooking juices until you have a gravy.
Carve the chicken and serve it with the gravy
Autumn flavors – roasted potatoes and onions with a nutty sauce to go with it….. hearty food with rich flavors, different textures and enough substance to satisfy your appetite. And, once you have enough romesco sauce on stock, very easy and quick.
Romesco sauce (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)
- 1 ripe tomato
- 1 whole head of garlic
- 60mL of olive oil
- 70g toasted blanched hazelnuts
- 200 of sliced white country-style bread
- 50 mL of sherry vinegar (fifty, not five hundred)
- 240g of roasted peppers (Adrià recommends Chorizero pepper paste, but I was not able to source. I replaced it an equivalent quantity of with preserved roasted peppers)
Method Pre heat the oven to 200 oC Put the tomato and head of garlic in a roasted tray and cook for about 45min or until is tender and blackened. Peel the tomatoes and garlic cloves and put into a big bowl (more likely, you will have to squeeze the garlic). Roast the hazelnuts in a pan with a bit of olive oil over medium heat, until they are dark golden. Remove, drain with a kitchen paper and set aside. Fry the bread with a bit of olive oil, and break to small pieces with your hands. Add the vinegar, nuts, bread, fried bread and peppers to the bowl where the tomato and garlic are. Process with a hand held blender to make a coarse paste. Blend in the olive oil until smooth. Baked potatoes (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal) Ingredients
- 1 baking potato per person
- 2 small onions per person
- Salt to taste
Method Pre heat the oven to 200 oC Wrap each potato in aluminum foil Put in a roasting tray and bake for about 45min or until the potatoes are soft and onion skins are charred. Cut the potatoes and the onions in half. Season with salt to taste. Serve with the romesco sauce.
This is where the rest of the ham ended up… A delicious combination of flavors with a sophisticated touch, ideal for Summer.
Serrano ham with melon mousse (adapted from the Inés and Simone Ortega’s Book of Tapas)
- 3 gelatin leaves
- 3 halved small melons, seeds removed (it works best with cantaloupe)
- 1 cup (=250 mL) of whipped cream
- 12 thin slices of cured ham
- Salt and pepper
1. Follow the instructions of the box to prepare the gelatin leaves.
2. Scope out of the flesh of the melon with a spoon and put them skins in the fridge. Make sure you don’t break brea skins as you will need them to plate this dish.
3. Puree the melon flesh in a blender, until you don’t see any chunks of fruit.
4.Put a small amount of the melon puree in a small pan. Warm it through over a low heat. Fish out the gelatin leaves from the water, and add to the warm melon. Stir well until it dissolves. Fold in the remaining puree and let it cool.
5.Fold the whipped cream in the gelatin-melon mix. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Poor the mixture into the melon shells and put it back into the refrigerator until it is solid.
7. When you are about to serve it, put the ham slices on top. Be careful not to let the melon go warm.
- 3 bleached garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 onions peeled and chopped in big chunks
- 60g cucumber peeled and chopped in big chunks
- 75g red bell peppers seeded and sliced
- 1Kg rip red tomatoes, chopped in big chunks
- 30g of white rustic bread, without crust, torn into pieces
- 120ml cup water
- 6 tablespoons of olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
First, peel the garlic cloves and drop in small saucepan with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. When the water begins to boil, take out the garlic out of the water and put into a bowl of ice water to quickly cool it. Repeat twice, always starting with cold water.
Peel and cut the vegetables into large chunks and put them into a large bowl. Add the tomatoes into large wedges and put in a bowl with the onions, cucumbers, and bell peppers. Add the bread, torn into pieces, then pour over the water. Process everything together using a hand-held blender, about 5 min until is well combined. Add the olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper and blend the soup until smooth and creamy. Chill in the fridge before serving (at least 2 hours). Serve the gazpacho with a plus an extra drizzle of olive oil. If you want, you can add cured ham, finely chopped egg, tuna, croutons, chopped pepper…..
This was supposed to be a Tarta de Santiago [St James’ cake]. A bad kitchen day and a less than good execution converted it into a simple almond cake. But, not everything was lost… I found back a childhood flavor. Actually, something which resembled to what used to be my mother’s favorite cake. I can still remember the nanny doing it year after year for her birthday with super sweet ovos moles [soft eggs] filling. And on the side, an ongoing polite fight between my mother and the nanny, where mother would ask the nanny for the recipe and the nanny would say she had promised never to give it away. The nanny eventually retired and all we got was a close enough version scribbled in a piece of paper. Or, maybe even the right recipe, but no one could bake it like her…
Almond cake (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)
- Baking spray or butter and flour as required
- 3 large eggs (70g)
- 150g of sugar
- Ground almonds 150g (fail of the day – if you want the St James cake, they must be peeled. The mix I used was not peeled and instead of getting an yellow-ish cake, I got a browned one with a bit more bite than it should)
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- Icing sugar as required
1.Preheat the oven to 180C. Coat a baking tray with baking spray (or butter and flour) (Ferran Adrià recommends a 30*50cm; I used a 30 cm round one
2. In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and the sugar until you have a pale yellow foamy mixture
3. Add the the ground almond and the cinnamon to the egg mixture. Fold it slowly in the same direction with a wooden spoon, until you obtain a fluffy and airy mixture.
4. Pour the mixture in the tray (second fail of the day – if you want the St James cake, it must be about 1.5cm deep. My cake almost doubled it).
5. Put in the oven for about 20min, or until golden brown. Make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides of tray when you take it out of the tray.
6. Sprinkle icing sugar on top of it before serving.
In Spain, we take cured ham seriously. Very seriously, as a matter of fact. But, when I posted my ex-Mother-in-law’s take on Iberian ham and tomato bread a couple of weeks back, I was far from image the Spanish Association of Selected Swine and Pure Iberian Breeders would get in touch with me via twitter. “Do you like ham! But, which one do you like? “, the asked me in less than 140 characters. In case I didn’t know my cured ham, they pointed me to a documentary about everything you always wanted to know about Jamón ibérico and never dared to ask. From the different types of pig to the state of industry during the recession and the grades of cured ham, everything is in there.
Even if you don’t share a passion of ham, it is worthwhile taking the time to watch. And, hopefully not be fouled again by some labels we see at the food shops in this part of the world.
Fly-in-fly-out to Barcelona… A little less than 11 hours in town, which allowed to fit in enough time to do my thing, touch the Mediterranean and buy proper ham at the airport free shop. And, by proper ham, I mean jamón ibérico de bellota [acorn Iberian ham], the dark red meat marbled with veins of fat which only the free range black Iberian pigs who feast on acorns can have. It is only the finest of cured hams and is considered one of the best delicacies in the world. Well, let’s make it clear – it actually is. I have seen otherwise serious gown up almost shed a tear when they tasted. As M. eloquently put it “the kind of thing that makes worthwhile years of studying just to be able to afford it”. And, if I may add, instrumental to cope with endless hours of corporate drama.
In any case, once the precious ham was acquired, carefully transported into Switzerland and put to rest in the fridge, I still had to figure out how to serve it. It was not just a question of dropping it in a hot plate… This ham deserved the best ingredient to compliment its nutty rich flavor and bring the best out of it. Since I had just been in Barcelona, it seemed totally logical to serve it with tomato bread, a combination of flavors made in heaven, known in Catalonia as pa amb tomàquet. It is said to be the most popular dish of their cuisine, and you may find different versions and lines of thought. Toasted or fresh bread? Garlic, or no garlic? Rub the tomato or use a pre-made mixture? Grate the tomato or puree it? I just avoided all the metaphysical question by resorting to my ex-Spanish Mother-in-Law strong recommendations.
Iberian ham and tomato bread (pa amb tomàquet amb pernil, Pan con tomate y jamón)
- Finely sliced cured ham
- 1 garlic teeth, peeled and cut in half
- Slices of toasted rustic bread
- Tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes, as they taste of something. When in Spain, I would have probably used regular grape tomatoes.
- Olive oil to taste
1. Grate the tomatoes into a bowl.
1. Toast the bread for a few minutes, until is warm and slightly crusty
2. Rub with the half garlic.
4. Drizzle with olive oil
5.Spread the grated tomato paste to taste
6. Put the ham slices on top
Once I got the empanada de atun [savoury tuna parcels] properly tested and under control, I decided to expand to other combinations. Not knowing where to start, I turned to Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas, whom seemed to favor spinach, cream cheese and spinach. If it is good enough for Patrick and Carlos, it is also good enough for me…. I am actually quite fond of spinach, which helped a bit my decision. Of course, living in Switzerland, the Cheddar in the original recipe had to be replaced by Emmentaler. No one noticed seemed to complain – if anything it conformed better to the taste of hardened expats living in Switzerland for longer than they want to admit. All in all, a great dish to serve when the occasion requires food easy to eat or informal gatherings. For bonus, it is vegetarian and all the greenies make it look a bit more healthy than its tuna fish counterpart. Eat warm or cold, with a beer or a glass of red wine.
Spinach and cheese parcels (empanada de espinacas y queso, adapted from Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas’ Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations)
- 2 packets ready of read-rolled puff pastry (one for the bottom, the other to cover it)
- 800g of fresh spinach, washed
- 100g of full fat creamy cheese, like Philadelphia
- 100g of grated Emmentaler cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 slightly beaten egg
1. Coat the bottom of a heavy bottom non sticky pan with olive oil and put it on high heat, until the olive oil is smoking hot.
2. Drop the the spinach leaves inside, season whit salt and turn the leaves until they start to wilt.
3. Transfer the leaves to sieve lined with kitchen paper, so it absorbs the bitter liquids.
4. Allow to cool, and put them in a large mixing bowl.
5. Add both cheeses to the spinach and mix everything together until it is homogenous.
6. Allow to cool overnight in the fridge
7. Heat the oven to 200 oC
8. Line the bottom and walls of the rectangular baking tray previously buttered. Pinch it with a fork and fold in the e spinach and cheese mixture.
9. Put the second sheet of puff pastry on top, and close the edges trimming the excess pastry. Seal with the beaten egg. You can brush the whole surface to look shiny.
10. Leave in the stove for about 20m (or according to the instructions), until the pastry is done.
A few weeks ago, I posted the
watered down light version of this dish. A dinner party loosely inspired in Spanish cuisine prompted me to do the actual thing, with all its condiments, red wine and olive oil. Mind you, for extra slow-home-made-cooking points, the meatballs were rolled by hand with all love and care by T. and myself. It seemed like a lot of food, but at the end all it was left was the meatballs used for this snapshot. And, I had to hide it in a dark corner of my fridge.
Meatballs in rich tomato sauce (adapted from Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas’ Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations)
For the meatballs
- 650g of minced pork and beef
- 2 pinches of very finely chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, mint, basil, tarragon, coriander and oregano.
- 1large egg
- small yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 red chili, finely chopped (or to taste)
- 300g fresh breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Enough olive oil to coat the baking tray
For the tomato sauce
- Olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 stick celery, finely diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 70mL ruby Port
- 250mL red wine
- 3 cans of 400g-chopped plum tomatoes
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 2 bay leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 180 oC.
2. Put all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl, and season all the salt and pepper. Combine with your hands until you have a consistent mixture which allows you to form the meatball.
3. Start rolling the meatballs with your hands.
4. Put a generous amount of olive oil in baking tray
5. Drop in the meatball, stirring them to coat them evenly.
6. Put the tray in the oven for 30min, or until the meatballs are all golden brown. Do not forget to stir them occasionally to cook them in all directions.
7.While waiting for the meatball, start the tomato sauce. Place a large, deep sided saucepan on a low heat and pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the sliced vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Fry gently until they are soft and start to color.
8. Poor in both wines, and bring to boil.
9.When the wine is boiling and has reduced to half the volume, drop in the tomatoes. Season again, and bring to boil, stirring at all times.
10. Turn the heat to low and let simmer for about 15min.
11. Once the meatballs are cooked, fold them in the tomato sauce. Let it simmer for 10min more. (in reality, what I did was to do the tomato sauce and the meatballs in advance. On the day of the party, I combined them both while cold. Then, I slowly warm them. It actually tastes better, as the flavors combine and develop).